Your Guide To Finding Your Female Ancestors In The Newspaper

An old photo of a mother posing with her daughter

If you’ve been  involved in family research for a while now, you might have realized that finding male ancestors in records is a lot easier than finding female ancestors. This is because our ancestors lived in societies in which women were treated in a much less equal fashion than what is the norm today.

This often meant that women were not mentioned by their names in  official records; they were often mentioned through other relations, for instance, as mothers or wives of the head of the household – even to the extent that their own names disappeared in favor of being “Mrs. Insert-Husband’s-Name-Here!”. One place where you may find more luck, though is in newspaper stories or announcement.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when looking for female ancestors in a newspaper.

Look For Bridal News—You’re Very Likely to Find a Married Female Ancestor Here

If you’re looking for a married female ancestor, there is a high chance you’ll find them in old newspapers under news related to their weddings or marriages. Weddings were big news in society at that time since they meant new family connections or a merger of wealth and businesses. Therefore, there was a lot of marriage-related news highlighted in the newspapers in the form of marriage licenses, bans, engagement announcements, bridal showers, and so on.

In these announcements, you’ll find your female ancestor’s maiden name – one of the most critically important pieces of information about any woman –  her parents’ names, the wedding date, the name of the new spouse, and where the wedding took place. If you’re lucky, you may even find photos of the wedding, including details of the bride’s dress and flowers!

Several old black-and-white photographs


Check Society News

Does your female ancestor strike you as a notable  person? If yes, you’re likely to find her in societynews. In fact, if she came from a noble family or was part of the more affluent tiers of society, she would almost certainly appear in society news. From the parties they attended to the ones they hosted, you’ll find them everywhere!

Also, many women were also part of clubs, societies, organizations, and church groups, and news about their events also appeared in newspapers. This will help you learn more about your female ancestor and the kind of activities they were interested in.

Pro Tip: Check the gossip columns too. Even if you don’t find your female ancestor here, they’re quite fun to read!

Be Creative When It Comes to Searching with Names

One thing you should definitely keep in mind when searching for female ancestors in newspapers is that you have to be open to all kinds of possibilities and spelling variations.

For instance, your ancestor’s name could be misspelled. This was very common at that time, and it was the case across the board, regardless of how easy or popular your ancestor’s name was. So, make sure to try different spelling variations.

Also, keep in mind that your female ancestor may not be featured with her full name in a newspaper. This was, of course, due to cultural limitations or even because of space restrictions. So, try different names when looking for a female ancestor. For example, you can search with their maiden name only, with the husband’s name, with their first name initials and surname, or with their nickname and surname.


If you’re struggling to find your female ancestors in newspapers, though, reach out to our team at DavisDNA And Family Research. We offer family genetic genealogy services and can help you find birth parents through DNA, including any missing female ancestors.